Post Saxby

Since Georgia will be choosing a new U.S. senator in 2014, what would be best consideration for the people of Georgia in picking this person?

One thing for certain: forget sheer logic, which is too simplistic a way for the voters of Georgia to act. After all, no matter what political race you consider, it’s not the reasonable logic about any of the candidates in the races that determines the winner. It’s always politics that enters the picture, as it probably should, in selecting the person to represent any geography in any election.

How about State Senator Jason Carter, age 37?
How about State Senator Jason Carter, age 37?

Yet especially in races for the U.S. Senate, instead of thinking politically, it would always be best for the citizens of the state to think strategically. After all, the office of senator is for a six year term, and during those six years, a senator begins to build seniority. By the time the senator is in his or her second term, they should be pretty far up the totem poll of ranking senators, especially in their own party. Get a person of their party to be president, or be in the majority party in the Senate, and they begin to build a power base within their chosen committee assignments.

That’s why it’s regretful to hear of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss saying that he won’t seek a third term in the Senate. Should he have won a third term, he would be well up in seniority, compared to Georgia sending a newcomer junior senator to the Capitol. That would have translated into a Georgian having much more power in the Senate.

So how should Georgians be thinking about their next senator? In one word, strategically. Send someone to be in the Senate who has good staying power, and over the years, can build seniority to become an even more influential senator.

That means, in effect, Georgia should elect someone who is relatively young to that post. That person needs to have the credentials to get elected politically, but also have the intelligence and background to do a good job once there.

Though Georgians from all walks of life could fill that slot, among the potential candidates are the 14 Georgians who now serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. While seniority in the House doesn’t count in the Senate, at least a congressman would know the ways of Washington, which should give a leg up in serving.

Look at the list of the current Georgia congressmen. Four of the 14 are under the age of 46. Based on age alone, any of these four gentlemen would be primed to serve.

District: Congressman, Age

  1. Jack Kingston, 57
  2. Sanford Bishop, 66
  3. Lynn Westmoreland, 62
  4. Hank Johnson, 58
  5. John Lewis, 72
  6. Tom Price, 58
  7. Rob Woodall, 41
  8. Austin Scott, 43
  9. Doug Collins, 46
  10. Paul Broun, 66
  11. Phil Gingrey, 70
  12. John Barrow, 57
  13. David Scott, 66
  14. Tom Graves, 43

What Georgia should not do is to send an elderly representative (or anyone else) to the Senate for a caretaking term. They would never gain enough seniority to be effective.

So, Rob Woodall (age 42 on February 11), Austin Scott, Doug Collins and Tom Graves: strategically, they are our best choices among representatives. And if other relatively younger Georgians would consider the election, they would be in a strategic position to benefit the state for years.

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Editor's note: This story originally published at the GwinnettForum.com.
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.